Women in Leadership

November 2015
L-R: Annie Langlois, Johanne Patry, Hélène Charlebois, Chantal Carptentier, Éliane Ubalijoro

L-R: Annie Langlois, Johanne Patry, Hélène Charlebois, Chantal Carptentier, Éliane Ubalijoro

Have you thought about the path you took to get where you are today? The decisions you have made, the experiences you have had, the people who have helped you along the way? What about the challenges you faced and overcame? These were the kinds of questions that were addressed in the inaugural Women in Leadership Event during Homecoming weekend at Macdonald Campus. We are grateful to the inspiring McGill alumnae, who gave us their time to speak openly about their careers, share their experiences at McGill and discuss the barriers faced by women in the workplace today.

Dr. Chantal Line Carpentier, BSc(Agr)’90, MSc’94, Chief of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) office in New York, was very enthusiastic about encouraging more women to pursue degrees in science. She spoke highly of her time at McGill, as it gave her the confidence to pursue science. “Having an interdisciplinary degree from McGill helped me land jobs and succeed in my career. It gave me a toolbox of theories that I was able to utilize in every aspect of my profession.” She also encouraged students to get involved in student clubs to develop their communication, leadership, and time management skills – the very skills she believes to be of utmost importance for employers today.

Hélène Charlebois, BSc(FSc)’88 Dietetics, a registered dietitian and a successful nutrition consultant, stressed the importance of getting outside of your comfort zone and challenging yourself. Having changed careers four times, she encouraged students to embrace change, as change leads to new opportunities. Regarding growth and development, she advises, “Be prepared to think outside the box, things will not always go according to plan, and that’s okay.”

Annie Langlois, BSc(NutrSc)’92, Senior Vice President of Massy Forget Langlois Public Relations, believes the best method for students to get a taste of real life is by pursuing an internship; “the greatest experience I had at Macdonald Campus was my internship. It is what truly gave me the direction in which to pursue my career in human health.”

Internships are one of the most common means by which students learn about career options and start to build a network. Networking, an important yet often forgotten feature of career progression, is not always an easy endeavour but utilizing your network will help you succeed and build a career for yourself.

Young women who have entered or are looking to enter the workforce need to be mindful of the barriers that they will face and to work towards breaking those barriers down. For instance, many women, including our panelists, have experienced being thought of as “pushy,” “bossy” or “aggressive” when they were simply being assertive. Dr. Carpentier believes that when managerial positions in the workplace have a better gender balance the dialogue and this narrative will change.

As Professor Ubalijoro stressed, “Authenticity is very important; it is how we connect with one another, it is how we lead and inspire others. It is what we see in all of the panelists gathered here today.” She encouraged students to reflect on the discussions that transpired at the event but to also continue to learn and grow. She asked students to think about the values that are important to them, the visions they have of themselves, where they see themselves in 5-10 years. The importance of having role models or people in your life who inspire you and push you to succeed is also pivotal. Preparing in this way before going out into the real world is crucial for your personal and professional development and growth.

In the words of Johanne Patry, DipAgr’77, Chair, Science on Stage Canada, “… there’s an old saying that goes if you can’t beat them, join them, but I say if you can’t beat them, join them and then beat them.”

View photos from the event

Missed the event? Watch a 30-minute video of the presentations.


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